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TrishandAlex
08-25-2008, 07:29 AM
Has anyone here ever used the hiker's shuttle to and from Washington's summit?

Alex and I are hiking up to Lakes of the Clouds in a few days, then visiting the peaks of Washington and Monroe before hiking back down.

My husband and Sage are planning on taking the hiker's shuttle up Washington, hiking down to Lakes to stay with us there, then the next day taking the shuttle back down from Washington.

I've called the Auto Road's number, and the woman who answered said it's not a problem getting the shuttle in either direction (first one up leaves for the summit at 9am from the Railway parking lot).

However, this website says one should NOT count on being able to use the shuttle at all.

Does anyone here have first-hand knowledge? I guess my husband could always take the Cog up/down, though we REALLY don't want to give the Cog any money. And our own car won't make the trip (Honda Civic, no 1st gear).

Thanks for any insight,
Trish

Bill O
08-25-2008, 07:42 AM
Its not a "hiker's" shuttle. Its a tourist van that usually has free space for hikers. They won't commit to it being available because if the road is closed the shuttle does not run. You need to use your best judgment on that.

All I know is that I would not want to hike all the way to the summit depending on a ride down.

Breeze
08-25-2008, 08:16 AM
OK here goes.....

There IS a hiker shuttle. It is just like the guided tour vans. The hiker shuttle operates out of the Summit Stage building, the one with the chains over the roof. It operates as the road operates, which is always Weather Permitting. Ice, snow, high winds, and some other nasty weather circumstances can close the road to all traffic. Some Special Events do impact the operation of Guided Tours and Hiker Shuttle, too, so check to be sure nothing is scheduled in advance.

Upbound One Way trips are booked at the Auto Road Base at the Stage Office. Once the staff and van(s) arrive at the summit, the Hiker shuttle runs on demand from the top, taking folks down to Pinkham, the AR base, and on request to the Great Gulf Trialhead . On the return UP to the summit, they will stop at he AR base for other upbound folks. Reservations aren't accepted, as there is not truly a "schedule". There is a fee for the service, it is not "free".

The disclaimer made by the Auto road IS valid. For Sure. The LAST THING anyone wants is to have folks stranded on the summit, unprepared. That is the botom line, so you have to make your best judgment call and go from there, knowing there are no guarantees.

Breeze

TrishandAlex
08-25-2008, 10:04 AM
Thanks, guys. What Breeze says more or less confirms what the lady on the phone said.

For clarification, my husband and Sage are not hiking to the top from the valley. They'll be coming from Lakes after spending the night with Alex and myself.

When they return to the summit, Alex and I will accompany them. I will make sure they have a ride down -- via shuttle or Cog -- before Alex and I leave for our descent. If for some reason they can't get a ride, we will all hike down together. My husband is capable of carrying Sage, and I would carry most of the gear. We have ample proper clothes, etc. for all of us, for two emergency nights out. We almost always carry this much on every hike.

We do not underestimate this mountain, I didn't want to give anyone the wrong impression. It would just be optimal for them to get a ride down if possible, hence my questions. We'll have the cash to pay whatever fee is charged. If it ain't possible, we'll hike down together.

I appreciate the information, Breeze and Bill O. Thanks, it helps us plan everything out and prepare for the "what-ifs" that much better.

rockin rex
08-25-2008, 12:20 PM
First let me say that yes in bad weather the auto road will close and those looking for a ride at the top have a problem. My family and I have been on this mountain many times and my wife and kids have used the shuttle service MANY times and never had a problem. It takes very bad weather to close down the auto road. To me if the road does close that means the weather is extremely bad and really should you be out there hiking if that is the case?? Your plan sounds great. Lakes is a great family hut and you and your family will have a great time. The shuttle at the top will bring you down (if road is open) but you just might have to wait a bit. As Breeze says it does not really run on a schedule. The vans coming up do run more on a schedule.
Hey if worse comes to worse and weather turns bad it gives you a great excuse for an extra night. Enjoy!!!

TrishandAlex
08-25-2008, 02:28 PM
Thanks, Rex. We look forward to this!

I spoke again with someone from the Auto Road. He gave very clear instructions on how to get the shuttle, where to park, our chances of dh and dd2 getting a ride down, etc. We feel pretty good about our plans. Though of course, we'll pack all the extra stuff just in case.

Breeze
08-25-2008, 08:55 PM
Trish, on MOST days, what you are thinking about would not be a problem. I think you probably talked to Steve today. Steve has a whole lotta years experience on MW both Auto Road and Bretton Woods Ski Area, he is a straight shooter.

Let me try to use a situation from todayfor some further "insight".

About 4:30 this afternoon a car arrived at the Toll House with a Father and Daughter, daughter age 12. The two of them had a reservation at Lakes of the Clouds for tonight, and they started out from PNVC before 8 AM to hike via Tucks.

They made it up to the top of the headwall and could not make headway into the NW wind at 40 mph, AND, coupled with the heavy cloud layer blowing sideways, couldn't see the trail. They turned around and came back down to their car ( good decision).

Dad decided then to drive to the summit and try hiking DOWN to Lakes because the wind would be at their backs. He knew it was posible to leave a car at the summit overnight.

He let me know exactly what he was planning and asked me for my advice.

By the time he came to the Toll House, summit temp had dropped to 42 F and the winds were 47 gusting to 56 mph, changed for the worse since his earlier foray above the headwall. There is a 30 minute ride to the summit ( he would arrive at 5 pm) and then need to tackle the hike down to Lakes. Cars leaving the summit must leave no later than 6:45 pm at this time of year to avoid the gate being locked, so he had some issues to think about.....

Leave the summit at 5 PM in bad and worsening weather with a 12 year old for Lakes...

Find out part way down that it wasn't going to be doable

HAVE to beat feet back UP to the summit under a time deadline in worsening weather/bad visibility to drive down safely...

Risk being 'stuck' with no viable options.

Perhaps having to forfeit the reservation at Lakes.

Before he paid me the Auto Road Toll, I told him that the overnight summit forecast had the words "snow" and " 30 degrees", and IF that did come to pass, might make their climb back to the summit ( and their car) in the morning a potentially "interesting" complication for the footing, not to mention perhaps delaying the opening of the Road itself tomorrow morning.

He made his judgment call to go ahead with his plan. I feel as though I gave him every bit of information I could give him to clarify his situation. I gave him the scoop as I saw it and he took on the risk management.

Your thoughts?

Breeze

mtruman
08-25-2008, 09:08 PM
...

Before he paid me the Auto Road Toll, I told him that the overnight summit forecast had the words "snow" and " 30 degrees", and IF that did come to pass, might make their climb back to the summit ( and their car) in the morning a potentially "interesting" complication for the footing, not to mention perhaps delaying the opening of the Road itself tomorrow morning.

He made his judgment call to go ahead with his plan. I feel as though I gave him every bit of information I could give him to clarify his situation. I gave him the scoop as I saw it and he took on the risk management.

Your thoughts?

Breeze

This sounds like one with potential for ending up in a future accident report in Appalachia Journal... This just can't possibly be the right kind of risk management when it involves the safety of a child and the risk of bad weather on Mt Washington. There is just too much precedence of disasters coming from this kind of situation. Hopefully things work out OK in this case. Sounds like you gave him all the right information and advice.

Breeze
08-25-2008, 09:59 PM
Thanks Mark. Some of us are caught between a rock and a hard place trying to keep others safe.

Breeze

TrishandAlex
08-25-2008, 10:52 PM
Breeze,

Thank you for your post. I appreciate your story regarding today. I also appreciate the difficult position you must be put in, all too often. I hope the father and daughter are OK.

I would question trying to go up in the afternoon. If that had been us, I would have forgone the Lakes Reservation.

On the day we go, we are all going to the summit as soon as possible. More specifically, Alex and I will be dropped off at daybreak to begin going up Ammonoosuc. From the trailguide, I gather we should be mainly in the trees/scrub until coming up right into the hut.

My husband and Sage will take the first shuttle of the day from Pinkham Notch, hopefully getting to the summit by 10am or so. They will have from then until the rest of the day to make it down to Lakes. Forecast so far is for sunny skies. Let's hope it stays that way. If it doesn't, we will rethink our plans.

For wind and chilly temps, husband has "Everest suit" and Sage has full winter gear. My husband is also a climber and can put a harness on himself and Sage and rope themselves together (don't want Sage to blow off the mountain!). If it's too windy, they won't attempt to come down. Our only issue right now is how to communicate. I'm not yet sure how he can tell me that they can't make it down to Lakes of the Clouds from the summit, as I know cell phones won't work. We have to talk more about that, so I don't stay up all night worrying if he and Sage don't show up.

As for the next day -- we will all be together, and can make summit decisions together. We plan to ascend as soon as we wake up.

So my long answer is that I would have said "oh well" to the reservation if I had been the father in your story, and gone back home. However, I hope to avoid that scenario altogether by leaving in the morning and taking a relatively sheltered path that leads right to a hut, while my hsuband and other daughter are driven up. So to me, the only real worry is waiting for my husband and Sage to hike down...and I am hoping they will have the entire day and good weather in which to do it. We will have the forecast and summit conditions in our heads before we leave the house for this trip.

Brad
08-26-2008, 05:33 AM
Suggestion - get the small "family radios" - the better ones can go 10 miles or more. My daughter uses them with her kids when they take off to play at the park. We use them between the boat and the house when we are out on the lake. We have used them between hikers in a large group and another with the "chase car" meeting us at the other end.

Here is an example.
http://www.llbean.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/CategoryDisplay?storeId=1&catalogId=1&langId=-1&categoryId=57543&sc1=Search&feat=sr

TrishandAlex
08-26-2008, 06:53 AM
Brad, excellent -- thanks. Any ideas where to get one? We'll need to pick it up ASAP. I'm guessing one of the many hiker/climber supply stores in any one of the White Mountain towns may carry them. I'll of course see if there's an L.L. Bean around too.

KD Talbot
08-26-2008, 07:01 AM
There's an LL Bean in North Conway. Also, IME and EMS, probably cheaper. Might try Wal-mart, too. Seriously.

KDT

Brad
08-26-2008, 07:17 AM
Yes, you can get them of varying quality - and range - at Circuit City, Best Buy, Wal-mart, etc. The LL Bean model is a lot longer range than the typical ones you find. But these will do the trick for what you need.

When we do office hikes we make sure the chase car driver, the lead hiker and the end hiker all have these radios. This way we can check in on everyone as we go.

rockin rex
08-26-2008, 08:35 AM
Breeze just curious. I know the huts are connected by radio but is the A.R. on the same system?? How about the summit?? Just curious how the hut radio system is set up.

Breeze
08-26-2008, 10:09 AM
Rex,

AMC and the Auto Road don't share radio comms.

Auto Road and MW State Park ARE radio friendly, including all the vehicles from each entity that travel the AR.

I have never asked the MW State Park crew if they have radio comm with Lakes/AMC ( slaps forehead) but I sure will be asking that question at my very next opportunity.

Trish, I second the recommendation for getting a pair of the "family " radios. A good solution!

Breeze

Knapper
08-26-2008, 10:38 AM
On the summit, state park and the obs can communicate to any other linked source. We are on different frequencies though so we have to switch over to communicate to the various agencies (for the obs at least). But state park scans most frequencies if not upstairs, definately in the living quarters cause I hear that going with AMC resv calls around the time I wake up every afternoon. And as for the obs, we talk to the huts every morning via radio to provide our forecast to them. But that being said, we are not an interum for cases like the one Breeze told about someone attempting to drive up late in the day. We don't want people to get the notion that if they need us to relay a message that we are their personal operator with various agencies.

TrishandAlex
08-26-2008, 08:23 PM
We were out all day looking at various gear/clothing stores (North Conway's L.L. Bean included). We couldn't find any radios. HOWEVER, we have not tried Walmart. Didn't even think of it. Will visit one tomorrow.

Brad
08-26-2008, 08:44 PM
We were out all day looking at various gear/clothing stores (North Conway's L.L. Bean included). We couldn't find any radios. HOWEVER, we have not tried Walmart. Didn't even think of it. Will visit one tomorrow.
Try Radio Shack.

TrishandAlex
08-26-2008, 08:56 PM
Try Radio Shack.

Will do tomorrow as well.

h2oeco
08-26-2008, 08:57 PM
Garmin also makes some FRS (family radio service) radios that include a built-in GPS - in addition to knowing where you are, your position can be transmitted to the other radios in your group - this is then plotted on the unit's screen. Rino is the line, there are a number of models.

Ed

Charlie
08-26-2008, 09:15 PM
Ryan what type of radios do you use high or low band
is it radio to radio or is there a repeater

KD Talbot
08-26-2008, 09:43 PM
What you really might want to look into is one of these:

http://www.findmespot.com/Home.aspx?gclid=CJWQ5K_MqZMCFQJ-xgodJ2jQog

KDT

TrishandAlex
08-26-2008, 10:13 PM
Thanks, Ed. I'll see if I can find a Garmin one tomorrow.

KD, I don't think Spot is what we want for this trip. We just need to be able to communicate with each other between the summit and Lakes of the Clouds. We need to be able to talk with each other. OK, we don't NEED to talk with each other, but I'd feel better if we could, so my husband and I can be assured of where the other one is and how we are doing.

Again guys, much obliged for the info. There's a Walmart a few exits away from us, I'll try there tomorrow. If they don't have one, I'll find a Radio Shack.

KD Talbot
08-26-2008, 10:21 PM
This would definitely be overkill for what you're planning to do, but the virtue of SPOT is that you can communicate, anywhere, by text message, even when there is no radio reception.

KDT

h2oeco
08-26-2008, 10:29 PM
LL Bean, EMS, and Walmart all list Garmin Rinos on their websites, no easy way to confirm whether or not the stores stock them...

I would think that a local non-chain store would have them too.

TrishandAlex
08-27-2008, 06:41 AM
KDT -- I didnT know about the text message capability. That's very interesting.

Ed, the North Conway EMS and L.L. Bean (and a few other places) didn't have an radios when I was there yesterday. We'll try Walmart and Radio Shack (and other places if needed) today.

As always, much obliged folks.

RI Swamp Yankee
08-27-2008, 12:57 PM
Walmart lists several, "available online only" :(

This is listed as "In Limited Stores":

Outdoor GPS Unit And 2-Way Radio All In One!
Made for the ultimate outdoor enthusiast, Garmin's Rino 120 GPS unit also comes with a built-in, 2-way radio with a 5 mile talk range for instant communication with your travel partner. Features a built-in basemap of North and South America, 8 MB of memory and up to 500 waypoints and 20 routes.
.... more at:
http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.do?product_id=1956733

... this post may be too late as you are probably shopping as I post it.

TrishandAlex
08-27-2008, 05:59 PM
Got the radio today, in the hunter's section at Walmart. We've tested them, they work great.

Hooray!

Brad
08-27-2008, 07:18 PM
That is excellent. They can come in handy in many different situations.

Breeze
08-27-2008, 09:08 PM
I was in LLB N.Conway today, they had a ( single) pair of Garmin Rinos ON SALE and marked down........ spoiler space .......... if you aren't fully fluffy in your wallet... bail now.












from $599.00 to $499.95.

lol Trish, I'm sure you found something more appropriate to the task

Breeze

TrishandAlex
08-28-2008, 05:30 AM
Yowsa! I was in that same store Tuesday and didn't find the radio, and the sales person said they didn't have any.

I'm glad we both overlooked it. I got a version for $50, which I think should do just fine. Of course, we'll find out soon enough.

This is good, Alex and I can bring these radios along on every hike. I can teach her how to use one, it's a good safety tool to have.

Can I just tell you my pack weighs a billion pounds? Two days out and an overnighter, packing for myself and for Alex, with emergency gear, etc. I think the highest danger we face is me keeling over from a heart attack due to hauling my pack up the mountain. :)

Brad
08-28-2008, 10:58 AM
But it will roll downhill really well.

TrishandAlex
08-29-2008, 06:27 PM
Brad!

And everyone else who chimed in with their radio knowledge --

THANK YOU!

They worked really, really well. It was wonderful knowing excatly where my husband and Sage were. We used them both days, often. We were very happy to have them, and now Alex and I can take them from here on out (in case we become accidentally separated).

They were a fantastic thing to have, thanks a million.

(And the hiker's shuttle worked well for my husband and Sage, both ways, no problems at all).

Trip report to follow in a few days. We were blessed with wonderful weather.

Right now my legs are burning, though Alex seems unfazed (she amazes me).

Beer and ice cream for dinner!

KD Talbot
08-29-2008, 07:46 PM
My kind of dinner!

KDT

Brad
08-29-2008, 07:57 PM
Great to hear the trip went well - you had good weather - and the radios worked well. Those radios are such a small thing and can be very handy. Now we need pictures. How about a sunset and sunrise up on the ridge?

Rich
08-29-2008, 09:23 PM
Looking forward to your TR!

TrishandAlex
08-30-2008, 05:58 AM
The TR will come in a few days. It's going to take a long time, I took almost 300 pictures. I won't post them all, but it will be difficult weeding some of them out.

Will probably post in the beginning of next week. This weekend we are going to be out and about all day, both days, doing other family-type stuff. Husband will glare at me if I'm on the computer for hours at a time this weekend. :o

Brad
08-30-2008, 06:04 AM
The TR will come in a few days. It's going to take a long time, I took almost 300 pictures. I won't post them all, but it will be difficult weeding some of them out.

Will probably post in the beginning of next week. This weekend we are going to be out and about all day, both days, doing other family-type stuff. Husband will glare at me if I'm on the computer for hours at a time this weekend. :o
Have a great time. You started off the weekend well.

mtruman
08-30-2008, 08:50 AM
Glad the trip turned out well. Sounds like Alex is turning into quite the hiker. In a couple of years you're really going to have a hard time keeping up with her! ;)

Looking forward to the TR and pics...